Skip to main content

Dean Villarruel’s January Message

As we begin another year at Penn Nursing, I want to extend my warm thanks to our entire community. With roots in Philadelphia and impact all over the world, our faculty, alumni, students, and staff do incredible work, show enormous compassion, and truly make a difference in the lives of so many. Prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry have no home in nursing; at its core is a universal commitment to care.

Penn Nursing’s core values of integrity, social justice, innovation, inclusion, and impact could not be more relevant to our time or more central to our field, and we strive to uphold them in everything we do. They greatly influence health and healthcare, and on a personal level, affect all of us day-to-day. At Penn Nursing and across the University, we are also committed to creating an environment that supports wellness for our faculty, students, and staff. This year, at the request of students, we are working on ways to support mental health, which also includes efforts from last year to address sexual assault. 

As one of four proud Penn Wellness Partners, we strive to ensure that our students understand that we are here for them, and this year we have already hosted many events related to student-health issues. Following the election, amidst an uproar of divisive reaction, we held a safe-space Town Hall meeting, and encouraged all members of our community to attend and pursue productive, healing dialogue. On November 29th, just before the end of the first semester, our Wellness Ambassadors worked with groups of freshmen on developing healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety. And this spring, our students are organizing a Wellness Week, with details and dates being finalized now.   

Everything that happens at Penn Nursing happens because we are dedicated to working together, for the benefit of all. Our esteemed faculty research and prolifically publish in leading journals, they practice, and of course, they teach. They are also leading policy change that runs the gamut from the White House Climate Change pledge, to full-scope of practice for nurse practitioners, and ensuring healthy transitions for frail elders. They are educators, change-makers, and incredible health-care providers.

Our talented students come to Penn Nursing for an outstanding education and they bring with them an exceptional breadth of perspective, background, and motivation. They are diverse, driven, and incredibly smart. And for many, they are the first in their families to attend college. We learn from them as they continually drive the School forward, helping to shape the future of nursing at the beginning of their careers. And this year is no different: In 2017, at the request of students, we are introducing a new course: Social Determinants of Health: Community Engagement.

And where to begin with our Alumni. From new nursing graduates who are entering the workforce in environments as varied as community health centers and acute-care hospital settings, to established mid-career professionals who practice, advance, and elevate nursing on a global level, they are leaders and tremendous assets to their organizations, their patients, and the field of nursing in general. We are grateful for the myriad ways that they choose to stay engaged with the School – as mentors for current students, guest lecturers on special topics, generous donors, and more.

I am reminded time and time again that no matter the capacity in which you join Penn Nursing, you join a life-long, world-wide community comprised of the most incredible individuals. As an alumna and now Dean, I feel so privileged and grateful to be a part of Penn Nursing, and I look forward to the many months ahead to be shared with all of you.